Bauhaus does Bowie: Looking back at their 1982 tribute to ‘Ziggy Stardust’
Quite rightly given the accolades as the inventors of Goth, Bauhaus wasn’t all about being black in heart and fashion. No, they had a little bit of glam to their palette and their 1982 cover of David Bowie’s iconic song ‘Ziggy Stardust‘ shows they had all the glittered swagger of the man himself.
David Bowie is a man whose songs have been covered numerous times. Bowie is just one of those artists who, having influenced and energised so many creative minds, has a lot of famous fans. Bauhaus, the forefathers of goth-punk, were just a few of those very fans. The band are widely attributed as huge fans of the star and paid tribute to Bowie and his alien-rock star incarnation Ziggy Stardust with their cover of Bowie’s iconic ode to the flame-haired, glitter-booted, rock and roll extra-terrestrial from his 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.
They even shot a quite brilliant video to go alongside the track which came out as part of a Double-A-side in October of 1982. The video was shot in the catacombs of Camden Market (actually just a series of tunnels but that’s what the locals call them) and features a full mock-gig set up with complete backline and riotous fans. It would act as a catapult for the band, eventually landing them a spot on the acclaimed show Top of the Pops.
Bauhaus bass player, Dave Haskins, recently released his book Bauhaus Undead: The Visual History And Legacy Of Bauhaus, which, as well as documenting the growth of Bauhaus, offered up some insight into just how much they idolised Bowie. The excerpt below is from Alt Press and focuses on the moment the band came into contact with Bowie. Having been scheduled to perform on the opening credits they crossed paths with the star on the set of the 1983 modern vampire flick The Hunger which was also starring Susan Sarandon.
“One of the most anticipated days in my career was our part in the filming of The Hunger starring David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve. The film was based on Whitley Strieber’s novel of immortal beings and vampirism set in modern-day America.
“Although we had the unnatural set time of 7:30 a.m., March 22, 1982, couldn’t arrive soon enough. Bauhaus were contracted to perform ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ in the nightclub scene where Bowie and Deneuve’s vampire characters were hunting for young blood.
“The Hunger director Tony Scott: “I love rock ‘n’ roll and impact at the beginning of movies, and Peter Murphy had this sort of ethereal, vampire quality to him, and I thought that would make an interesting opening title sequence in the movie.”
“Although the scene was set in New York, it was filmed at the London nightclub Heaven, a club where we had previously played. We were all very big fans of Bowie and, like many musicians of the post-punk era, Bowie’s performance of ‘Starman’ on Top Of The Pops, was a significant and profound turning point in our lives. So to say that we were excited was somewhat of an understatement.
“Prior to the filming, Tony Scott wanted to re-record ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ so that he would have his own designated version. We were booked into Morgan Studios in January ‘82 with the musical supervisor on the film, Howard Blake. Classically trained, Howard had attempted to transcribe our recording, which was a formidable and almost impossible task. Unfortunately, he couldn’t achieve what he wanted due to the experimental and spontaneous nature of the dub delays and Daniel’s experimental guitar work on the original version. As we had already captured a good live version the previous November at the Hammersmith Palais, frustrated and defeated, Howard and Tony eventually agreed to use that recording.
Radiating with charisma, and walking with a confident swagger, Bowie arrived on set in green designer army fatigues, appearing a tad shorter than I had imagined him to be. After surveying the set, he disappeared into hair and makeup, later to emerge, magnificently transformed, sporting a very resplendent black silk suit and jet black pompadour wig…he looked amazing!
“We were then ushered on stage to play our part, Peter delivering an electrifying performance, I’m sure spurred on by the knowledge that Bowie was watching from the wings.
“After Tony was satisfied with our part, the crew had to set up the next shot, and I watched as David Bowie’s stand-in took his place. It was then that I noticed the real Bowie gravitating toward an old Wurlitzer jukebox, housed in an adjacent room of the club. I, along with about 20 extras, regulars of the club and who, one could tell, were also big fans, followed him at a respectful distance. David proceeded to begin selecting records, and so we all moved closer, and eventually, on his invitation, sat down before him. It was from that point on, for the next two blissful hours, that we were treated to a private audience with the legendary musician! Many of the songs he played were from his LP, Pin-Ups, and he regaled us with wonderful stories about when he originally saw the bands at the Marquee Club and Eel Pie Island, and why he chose to record each one: Bands such as The Yardbirds, the Who, the Kinks and the Pretty Things, etc.
“As this remarkable day was coming to a close, I was looking for a light for my cigarette and asked David’s assistant Coco for one. Unbeknownst to me, Bowie was only one foot away from me, hidden from view, just the other side of a doorway. She said words to the effect of: “Sorry, I don’t, but I think that David has one.” It was at this moment that he magically appeared before me, presenting a lit lighter! It was all I could do to manage to bring the cigarette to the flame, as my starstruck hand was shaking so uncontrollably! He had a devil of a time actually getting it lit, but eventually succeeded, and so, yes, David Bowie lit my cigarette!”— Dave Haskins.
So there you have it, big punks can sometimes act like screaming fanboys. Listen to our preferred method of paying homage with Bauhaus’ 1982 cover of David Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’.